What's that Harkonnen doing?

OK folks, I recently watched Dune (the version with Sting) and remembered something that has puzzled me for a long time. In the scene where the Baron Harkonnen is joyously celebrating his victory over the Atreides, one of his henchmen is doing something weird. The henchman is holding some kind of ornate black box with a big knob on the side. With a look of rapturous pleasure, he’s strenuously adjusting the knob while some strange sound emerges from the box. What the heck is going on? At first I thought he was remotely torturing some poor atreides soldier and the sound was the highly distorted screaming. But then I remembered that in the book, one of the Barons head guards is addicted to some drug that uses bizarre music as a component. So that may be what David Lynch was trying to portray.

Wadday’all think?

I thought he was just playing some weird-ass Harkonnen instrument. If the Baron can like getting his pimples popped and getting a bath in what looks like used motor oil, then I suppose his henchmen can play music with a faucet handle that sounds like fingernails on a blackboard. Why not? It proves they’re EEEEE-VIL, at least in Lynch’s universe.
Incidentally, the guy playing the instrument is, IIRC, the “hero” of Lynch’s movie Eraserhead. He shows up in just about all of Lynch’s films.
For m,ore on the musical aspects of Lynch’s Dune, see here:


Jack Nance is the actor’s name, playing Captain Iakin Nefud. I don’t think that name’s in Herbert’s book:

I always figured it was a musical instrument, and it was included to show that the Harkonnen are so warped even the music they listen to is painful and discordant.

AH-HA! Captain Nefud was the drug-addicted commander of the guard. I think the drug-music combo was called semuta or some such.

“I’m Paul.”

The drug is called Semuta and it causes the user to lose the will to live, essentially. It was used, according to the Dune Encylopedia, on injured soliders who were close to death, to ease their passing. It somehow became a recreational drug.

Atonal music was something that enhanced the high. Hence the atonal music from that box thing.

In the book, Nefud becomes top guard after Leto (the elder)'s botched assassination attempt on the Baron. Harkonnen likes that he’s addicted to Semuta, because that’s a good way to control him.
I love the Dune books.

What always really bugged me what the who cat-taped-to-a-rat-in-a-box that thufir had to milk in order to keep his posion in check. It’s just so bizarre and makes no sense at all.

Then again, it’s a lynch movie.

Sorry I was late guys. I had to milk the rat.

its been a while but this was in the books in some form. I dont recall for sure if it was a cat/rat thing in a box but it was an animal he had to milk and care for.

IIRC, I though he just had to pet the cat to release its genetically-engineered antitoxin.

Meh. I thought Doon was a far more enjoyable reading experience.

“I AM the Kumqwat-Hagen-Daz!”

But now you’ve told me. Does that me make a Kumquat-hagen-daz, too?